A cargo ship carrying containers is seen near the Yantian port in Shenzhen, following the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Guangdong province, China May 17, 2020.
Martin Pollard | Reuters
BEIJING — China reported a worse-than-expected drop in exports in October, while imports surprisingly rose for the month from a year ago.
China’s customs agency said exports in U.S. dollar terms fell by 6.4% in October from a year ago. That’s worse than the 3.3% drop predicted by a Reuters poll.
Imports rose by 3% in U.S. dollar terms in October from a year ago. That’s in contrast to the Reuters’ forecast for a 4.8% drop from a year ago.
However, China’s imports from the U.S. were down by 3.7% in October versus the year ago period, CNBC calculations of customs data showed.
China’s imports from the European Union rose by more than 5%, while those from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations grew by 10.2%, the analysis showed.
Overall, China’s exports have fallen on a year-on-year basis every month this year starting in May. The last positive print for imports on a year-on-year basis was in September last year.
China’s exports to Southeast Asia and the European Union fell by double digits in October, according to CNBC calculations of official data. Exports to the U.S. dropped by more than 8%, the analysis showed.
By product, China’s crude oil imports rose by both volume and value, but that of rare earths fell.
Shoe and toy exports fell, while smartphone and home appliance exports rose. China’s auto exports continued to grow by double-digits in October, but at a sharply slower pace — 50% year-on-year vs. more than 60% in prior months.
Lackluster global demand for Chinese goods and muted domestic demand have dragged down China’s overall trade.
The world’s second-largest economy reported 4.9% growth in gross domestic product in the third quarter, beating expectations and keeping China on track for its official target of around 5% growth this year.
In the last few weeks, top policymakers have announced more support for the economy, primarily struggling local governments. Beijing has also taken steps to stabilize the massive real estate sector, which is expected to become a smaller part of the economy in the long term.